Skip to main content

Full text of "Verdict On India"

See other formats

MUMBO-JUMBO                                         141

medicine. They were the first to use gold in the treatment of con-
sumption, and they were the first to use a certain oiL. whose name
I forget, in the treatment of leprosy. These discoveries were made
many centuries ago, and if they had been followed up in the spirit
of Western research, the world might have been saved much
misery. But Ayurveda, as we have seen, was a secret Brahmin,
society. Its exponents were gripped fast by the superstition that
if a secret was given to the world it would 'lose its virtue* (or, more
likely, cease to be a source of profit) and therefore the seals were
put on the bottles, the herbs were locked away, the sacred bookK
were jealously guarded, and Time, in Indian medicine, stood still.
We have indicated, briefly but accurately, the pros and cons of
Ayurveda. But we have forgotten one branch of this 'science*
which has shown remarkable progress. It is not a very honourable
branch but it plays so large a part in Ayurveda that it must be

In the manufacture of aphrodisiacs, Ayurveda reigns supreme,
On my desk lies the catalogue of one of the many firms of
Ayurvedic chemists. These firms are legion; they have a huge
mail-order business; and their long lists of testimonials offer
impressive proof that the mystic approach to medicine is something
which the Indian likes, demands, and is ready to pay for.
However, there is nothing mystic—and probably nothing
exaggerated either—about their claims to stimulate the sexual
Concerning a certain ointment we are told that it will 'infuse
young men with horse-like vigour/ The Westerner might feel
alarmed by the prospect of developing such equine propensities ;
n,ot so the Hindu.
Of a certain syrup it is written, cit causes the fountain of desire
to spurt, just like the brilliant sun, in the serene sky.*   And as
„ though this were not enough, for a dollar... 6it has the effect of
cooling the brain as well5 (it is somewhat difficult to reconcile
those appareixtly conflicting properties).